The study plans to track 100,000 children through varying stages of development, to determine how health exposures such as physical environment, chemical exposures, and genetics play a role in the development of various problems, such as birth defects, asthma, learning disabilities, and obesity.
The cost is one obstacle currently holding up the study. The goal is to monitor children's environmental exposures from before birth until they are 21 years old, which would be expensive. But in return we have to the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the causes of many diseases that are on the rise. A few opportunities that were noted by the NYT article on the study were:
Does pesticide exposure, for example, cause asthma? Do particular diets or genetic mutations lead to autism?
Clues could emerge if, for example, developmentally disabled children in both rural Alabama and suburban California show similar genetic patterns or chemical exposure.I think the deeper understanding of developmental problems we stand to gain from the study makes it very worth the cost. It will allow us to learn how to prevent a variety of these illnesses, but also hopefully how to treat them when they do occur. What do you think?